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County Supervisors: Small guys deserve tax help, too

NATCHEZ — Sometimes it seems like the big guys get all the breaks.

Tax abatements for large businesses have long been a standard offering tied to economic recruitment efforts. But now, members of Natchez-Adams County’s economic development apparatus are seeking to find out if it can offer similar incentives to small businesses at a county level.

Adams County Board of Supervisors President Darryl Grennell asked the board’s attorney — Scott Slover — Monday to find out if the county would be able to offer a tax abatement for small business startups or expansions.

Grennell said he did so at the request of Natchez Inc. and Alcorn State University’s office of community outreach and partnership development.

Natchez Inc. Project Manager Chris Hinton said the tax breaks provided to large businesses are done through the Mississippi Development Authority.

“The state has to get a commitment from a larger business that they are going to create so many jobs before they qualify for a tax abatement,” Hinton said. “It is almost like a checks-and-balances system.”

The problem is that small businesses likely can’t meet the benchmarks necessary to qualify for most tax breaks through the MDA, Hinton said.

“Small businesses don’t normally employ more than two to three employees at the most, so they can’t get that same commitment from the state of Mississippi,” he said. “The (small) company can’t necessarily commit to a certain number of employees to give back to the county, so we are looking to find some avenues for our small businesses — a lot of our small businesses are not receiving any incentives or anything.”

Grennell said that if the county gets the word that such a tax abatement is possible, he would be open to discussing what kinds of incentive packages would be possible for the county to offer.

“I don’t know if there would be a 100-percent tax abatement, but there is possibly some kind of incentive we could offer,” he said.

Hinton said the ultimate goal of the query is to help more small businesses start up or for existing small businesses to expand.